One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
The social elite of a community.‘I would like nothing better than to ask the Four Hundred to meet you’
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- ‘Now, on cold misty autumnal evenings, locals say they have seen the four hundred marching through the village still.’
Mid 19th century: from Ward McAllister's remark ‘There are only 400 people in New York that one really knows’, later popularized in society reports by the New York Sun. The notion ‘elite’ is said to be from the selection of high-society guests by the socialite Mrs William B. Astor Jr, whose ballroom could hold 400.
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